TOP 10 GAMES OF 2017
Maybe there’s some recency bias in play, but many have heralded 2017 as the greatest year of all-time for video games. Whether or not you believe we’ve surpassed the heights of 1998, 2007 and 2013, it’s hard to argue the past 12 months don’t hold their own against any other year. 2017 was sprinkled with welcome surprises, from Nintendo’s triumphant revival to sleeper indies becoming critical darlings. The Explosion Network’s top 10 list features a mix of returning franchises, some reimagined classics, and several completely fresh ideas — each combining to give 2017 a breadth of quality across multiple platforms and genres, setting a new standard for gaming for many seasons to come. Our biggest problem with this year’s lineup of video games is that there have just been too many to play.
– Jono Pech
This “Top 10” list was polled by Dylan Blight, Ciaran Marchant, Jono Pech, Ashley Hobley, Jack Kruse, Nicholas Prior and Thomas Marshall. Personal rankings formed a shortlist, which was voted into to an official top 10.
10.) UNCHARTED: THE LOST LEGACY – NAUGHTY DOG
Although it is a much shorter experience than other games in the series, this standalone adventure starring Chloe Foster and Nadine Ross is worthy of the Uncharted mantle. Naughty Dog did a wonderful job fleshing out Chloe’s back story and provided the great mix of gunplay, puzzles and story we expect from the series. With some great moments, a meta sense of humour and a surprise cameo, The Lost Legacy is hopefully a glimpse at the future of the Uncharted series.
– Ashley Hobley
9.) What remains of edith finch – giant sparrow
Giant Sparrow’s second outing – What Remains of Edith Finch – is a beautiful storytelling experience and perhaps my favourite “walking simulator” to date. The game is essentially a combination of interactive character pieces, each with their own unique style and perspective, that collectively detail the lives and deaths of individual Finch family members, as the player explores the family home. It is a rollercoaster of emotion, packing a powerful punch of laughs, love, loss and human mortality, all easily experienced in one afternoon sitting. There is almost no reason why you should not have given What Remains of Edith Finch a shot at this point. This is my independent game of the year, and for the reasons above, it pushes close to my personal game of the year.
– Thomas Marshall
8.) BATMAN: THE ENEMY WITHIN – TELLTALE
From where season one left us, the first three episodes of Telltale’s Batman: The Enemy Within continued the course of changing and creating an original storyline in the universe many of us have already explored and loved. With Gotham City in turmoil, tragic losses of close friends, and new friendships being built, we find ourselves in one of the most unique Batman stories I have ever read or played through. We are still in for a treat with two mystery-filled episodes to come, but the opening three parts of the series are enough to secure a spot on our list. Players (including myself) have fallen in love with the new takes on beloved characters (John Doe, I’m looking at you) and exploring the backstories that the team at Telltale have crafted for them. This series could have easily been a retread of the trope Batman has become in other forms of media, but it has avoided doing so, leaving fans of the series waiting with bated breath for the coming release of episodes four and five.
– Ciaran Marchant
7.) super MARIO ODYSSEY – nintendo
If any game gave me nothing but pure joy this year, it was Mario Odyssey. Here was a game that reminded me why the medium grabbed me as a child in the first place — to take me to fantasy lands and make me joyous with the worlds I was exploring. In the first Odyssey world, I threw my hat Cappy at a sleeping T-Rex to take control, allowing me to stomp around as a giant dinosaur. It was ridiculous, but I loved it. Soon after I would discover a creature that would flick its sunglasses up and down, which made me laugh at its cartoonish nature for several minutes. The New Donk City song and level later in the game is one of the best gaming moments of the year. Mario Odyssey offers you what you’d expect from a Nintendo Mario game — fantastic gameplay and design — but it’s also such a funny, exciting and marvelous experience that is guaranteed to remind you why you love video games.
– Dylan Blight
6.) SOUTH park: the fractured but whole – ubisoft, south park digital studios
I had forgotten how much fun I had with South Park: The Stick of Truth, and this follow-up from Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s 2014 release hits on all the notes of the original, while improving on the story and providing laughs from go to woe. I never got tired of backtracking and re-exploring areas through the town every time I unlocked a new ability or received a side quest, because there was always another hilarious surprise around the corner. The combat is simple but fun, and the addition of the grid system freshened the gameplay nicely, mixing and matching your party to suit the battle. The Towelie segment may be the funniest moment in gaming ever. As my personal game of the year, South Park: The Fractured But Whole gave me everything I loved about the original and then some – I can’t wait for the next instalment, if Parker and Stone decide to grace us with another sequel.
– Jack Kruse
5.) persona 5 – atlus, p studio
Atlus’ newest entry in the Persona series is the game that most easily consumed my time this year. As someone who had only dabbled in the series previously, I was entranced by Persona 5 and found myself enthralled by the story of the Phantom Thieves, often playing until odd hours of the night. Featuring an assortment of interesting characters, beautiful art design and a delightful soundtrack, this game is well worth the 100+ hours you will find yourself playing it. (Also Makoto is Best Girl. Don’t @ me)
– Ashley Hobley
4.) Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus – machinegames
The New Colossus is a fantastic single player shooter that proves you don’t need multiplayer to make a good game in 2017. This Wolfenstein sequel has it all – tight responsive shooting mechanics, weapons that all feel unique and fun to use, and great level design. But what shines most in this title is the story and characters. We join BJ immediately after the end of The New Order and he is a broken man trying, but struggling, to push with every inch in the world he lives. The new and existing characters are strong, well-written, and have great, believable moments. Make sure you don’t sleep on this sequel.
– Nicholas Prior
3.) zelda: breath of the wild – nintendo
From the moment you set foot in Hyrule, you get the feeling that Breath of the Wild was not something we had seen before. That feeling continued as Nintendo fans explored the world that was so familiar and yet also felt completely fresh. Breath of the Wild does not waste the player’s time by holding your hand throughout the game. After the 20-second basic tutorial, the game opens up and is at your disposal. Go visit every shrine, discover the history of the world or even walk straight up to Ganon and slap him in the face (though I do not recommend this option if you wish to live). There was not only freedom in the exploration of the world, but also in how you solved its puzzles. Need to cross a river? Make a bridge out of frozen blocks, chop down a tree and sail across the river on it, or just light the tree on fire and use the hot air to launch your glider into the sky. There has never been freedom like this in gaming history and even though more may follow in its footsteps, no game will ever have the same meaning to the community as Breath of the Wild does today.
– Ciaran Marchant
2.) hellblade: senua’s sacrifice – ninja theory
Ninja Theory threw me the ultimate twist with Hellblade. I thought I was purchasing a game from the makers of Heavenly Sword and I was about to get something of a spiritual successor to that early PS3 game. I was wrong. Hellblade is a journey unlike any other game released in recent memory and Senua’s struggle with psychosis is something I haven’t experienced in the medium. Her mission to rescue her lover from the goddess Hela is one of fantasy, yet it is one of the most personal and honest stories in games from this past year. Every bit of the Norse mythology and Celtic culture makes for a fantasy world too, with Hellblade somehow being one of the PS4’s best-looking games. It’s also a game that means it when it suggests playing with headphones. The full psychological horror elements and the fantastic audio and sound design are on those headphones. Melina Juergens delivers the standout performance of the year, rivaling some of my top games performances of all time, in what is one of 2017’s best games.
– Dylan Blight
1.) horizon zero dawn – GORILLA games
Along with its Hyrulean rival on the Nintendo Switch, this year Horizon Zero Dawn introduced us to a new measuring stick for open world games. You’ll struggle to think of a game with prettier environments or lighting effects, and you will not find a more beautiful and detailed setting of this magnitude. Without substance, this aesthetic achievement would be fruitless, but Guerrilla Games fortunately created one of 2017s most memorable characters at the heart of Horizon, with Ashley Burch’s portrayal of Aloy. I loved the way this action-packed RPG amalgamated elements of the past and present to create a truly unique story. Hunting robot dinosaurs is fun, but it was thrilling to discover the futuristic sci-fi lore and enemies thrown into a primitive dystopia 1000 years in the future. Although the tribal conflicts of Horizon‘s present day were admittedly less than riveting, Aloy’s journey to learn about the downfall of the Old World kept me intrigued enough to spend countless hours exploring the remnants of the past. Horizon goes far beyond the political power struggles and anti-technology revelations to tell a story about Aloy’s journey from outcast to hero, on a quest to discover her own true identity. My many battles rarely felt repetitive, with almost 30 varieties of enemy types, each with differing strengths, weaknesses, behaviours and abilities that force you to carefully consider your plan of attack, choosing from a vast selection of weapon types and ammo. Ranged combat has never felt as exhilarating as switching from tearblast arrows to slingshot or ropecaster, diving to escape the reach of a roaring Thunderjaw surrounded by Ravagers and Lancehorns. It’s far from a perfect game, but Horizon Zero Dawn is a technical marvel and excels in enough areas to make it an exciting PlayStation franchise and the Explosion Network’s game of the year.
– Jono Pech